Husband And Wife Plead Guilty to Social Security Fraud Scheme
OAKLAND – Erick and Kimberly Dominguez pleaded guilty in federal court today to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with their scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration (SSA), announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and SSA Office of Inspector General Special Agent in Charge Robb Stickley. The plea was received by the Honorable Haywood S. Gilliam Jr., U.S. District Judge.
According to the defendants’ plea agreements, Kimberly Dominguez, 37, of Vallejo, Calif., was an employee at the SSA’s Oakland Teleservice Center. From September 2015 until October 2019, Ms. Dominguez used her employment at the SSA to divert Social Security direct deposit payments from recipients’ bank accounts to bank accounts that she controlled. After the diverted benefits were deposited, Erick Dominquez, 39, withdrew money from the accounts, primarily via ATM cash withdrawals. In two instances, Ms. Dominguez reinstated suspended Social Security benefits before diverting them. In total, Ms. Dominguez diverted at least $247,784.70 in Social Security payments from more than 30 recipients.
A federal grand jury indicted the defendants on November 7, 2019, charging them both with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, and Ms. Dominguez with an additional seven counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. Both defendants pleaded guilty to the conspiracy count; and if Ms. Dominquez complies with her plea agreement, the additional charges against her will be dismissed at sentencing.
Judge Gilliam scheduled the defendants’ sentencing hearing for July 13, 2020, in Oakland, Calif. The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to commit wire fraud is twenty years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and a three-year term of supervised release. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Special Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Vieira is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Marina Ponomarchuk. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the SSA Office of the Inspector General with assistance from the FBI.
The defendants charged in this case are among the 400 defendants charged nationwide by federal prosecutors this year in connection with financial schemes that targeted or largely affected seniors.
Today Attorney General William P. Barr announced the launch of a National Elder Fraud Hotline, which will provide services to seniors who may be victims of financial fraud. The Hotline will be staffed by experienced case managers who can provide personalized support to callers. Case managers will assist callers with reporting the suspected fraud to relevant agencies and by providing resources and referrals to other appropriate services as needed. When applicable, case managers will complete a complaint form with the Federal Bureau of Investigation Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) for Internet-facilitated crimes and submit a consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission on behalf of the caller. The Hotline’s toll free number is 833-FRAUD-11 (833-372-8311).